Are you wondering how long is pharyngitis contagious? It is safe to say that not all cases of pharyngitis are the same and it all lies in how a sore throat is acquired. If you are suffering from a sore throat due to allergic reactions or other environmental factors, there is a slight chance that it is transmissible. On the other hand, the ones that are infectious and contagious are usually pharyngitis that you happen to catch from bacteria or viruses.
Read on to find out more about bacterial or viral pharyngitis transmission, how long should you expect to be contagious, as well as the various precautions that you need to take.
Pharyngitis: An Overview
Pharyngitis, or what they commonly call a sore throat, is an inflammation of the pharynx. Since you can find your pharynx at the back of the throat, you may find it difficult to swallow and talk. Pharyngitis can also lead to feelings of scratchiness and other forms of discomfort.
In recent studies by the American Osteopathic Association, most doctor visits are due to sore throats closely related to pharyngitis. It is essential to identify the causes of a sore throat to treat it properly.
What Are the Causes of Pharyngitis?
Viruses are the leading causes of sore throats. In most cases, about eighty-five to ninety-five percent of flu or common colds are viral pharyngitis. Antibiotic treatments are not responsive to viral infections and are only necessary for relieving symptoms.
Children between the ages of five to fifteen years old have a higher percentage of having bacterial infections than adults. Among this age group, an estimate of about thirty percent happens to get bacterial pharyngitis. Exposure to pharyngitis-causing bacteria such as strep throat requires antibiotic treatments to reduce the severity.
How Can I Differentiate Contagious and Non-contagious Pharyngitis?
Sore throats typically get better in a week up to ten days even without treatment. However, some types can be contagious and spread among those that are around you. There are many possible causes of having a sore throat, which is why it is worth noting to know when you should contain it.
Frequent pharyngitis cases occur during months when there are weather changes while some are from viral and bacterial causes.
Sore throats from the following types of viruses are contagious:
- Adenovirus and rhinovirus – leading viral pharyngitis that causes common colds and flu
- Influenza virus
- Epstein-Barr virus
- Coronavirus – virus affecting the upper respiratory
- Whooping cough
Contagious pharyngitis-causing bacteria are as follows:
- Group A streptococcus
- Mycoplasma pneumonia
- Arcanobacterium haemolyticus
Other causes of contagious pharyngitis
- Candida albicans – These are fungal infections along the throat or pharynx, commonly known as esophageal thrush.
- Ascaris lumbricoides– Most widely known as roundworms, which are rare parasites.
A sore throat is not contagious if you got it from the following:
- Allergies – These can be seasonal and several factors, such as pollen, dust, molds, grass, mites, or pet dander.
- Postnasal drip – A continuous production of mucus by the glands of your nose and throat.
- Air– When dry or cold air is present from heating systems, especially during the winter season.
- Sleeping with an open mouth or snoring – The throat dries out when you breathe through your mouth.
- Pollutants– Especially air pollutants, whether indoors or outdoors, can irritate the pharynx.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) – An acid reflux where food from the stomach moves up to your esophagus.
- Neck or throat injury – This can be due to accidental swallowing or other causes.
- Strain from vocal cords– Overuse of your larynx from yelling or talking for a long time.
- Tracheal intubation – Done to open airways for people who experience difficulty in breathing.
- Medications – Some drugs for asthma and high blood pressure, including ACE inhibitors, corticosteroid inhalants, and chemotherapy drugs.
- Tumors – Malignant growth of abnormal cells, which might be due to throat cancer.
- Kawasaki disease – Inflammation of lymph nodes affecting the throat.
- Thyroid disease– A condition where the thyroid glands, located at the front of your neck, become overactive.
How Long Can Pharyngitis Be Contagious?
Depending on the particular virus causing the viral pharyngitis, a person with this kind of sore throat is contagious from the onset of symptoms and until it is gone. Often, doctors recommend an extended quarantine period to ensure that the virus is entirely gone and contained.
Viruses are critical because it is very easy to spread. They can remain contagious on your hands and your bodily fluids for some time and can be transferrable through air droplets. It is essential to refrain from touching multiple surfaces to minimize the transmission of the virus. You must also keep your clothing away from others because the virus can remain and thrive in the fabric by itself.
Practice good hygiene and have enough knowledge on how to keep your area sanitized. If possible, it will be helpful to stay indoors for a couple of days. In case you need to go outside, you can protect others from getting infected and prevent the spread of the virus by wearing face masks.
Sore throat from common colds is infectious before you notice the onset of symptoms. Studies show that common colds can be spread from two to three days before you can confirm that you have it. In simpler terms, it means that the virus is highly contagious within its incubation period.
An incubation period is the time between getting infected and the time that you see the symptoms. You are in no way of knowing that you are already transmitting the virus because you are yet in the initial exposure stage and are not yet experiencing any symptoms. However, being contagious will still last until two weeks or more, depending on the virus’s strength.
If you have the flu, you are more likely to be infectious when you begin showing symptoms until five days to a week afterward. Unlike the common colds, sore throat from flu is not as contagious.
Sore throat during chickenpox is easily transmitted two days before the spots appear until the sites are entirely dried and crusted over. This development usually takes about four to five days, but can be longer depending on the person’s immune system.
Tonsillitis and Strep throat
Strep throat bacteria that cause tonsillitis is also highly contagious. It starts within the incubation period of two to five days until the symptoms develop. You will also reach your peak of being infectious once you have completed your course of antibiotics, particularly after the first twenty-four hours have passed.
Important Note: Even if you have noticed the symptoms subside, you must continue taking your antibiotics. Completing the entire course as it indicates in your prescription is essential to avoid the bacteria from developing antibiotic resistance. Strep can cause severe complications with your other organs if you fail to treat it correctly with antibiotics.
Hand, foot, and mouth disease
The first week of having a hand, foot, and mouth disease is the most contagious time for pharyngitis to spread. However, they can still be contagious for about one to three weeks after, via the mouth, nose, and lungs. It is also important to note that a person who had a hand, foot, and mouth disease can harbor the contagious virus on their stool. It can last for several weeks or up to months, depending on the strength of the virus.
Best Practices to Prevent Pharyngitis
Taking the necessary precautions to avoid spreading viral and bacterial pharyngitis is essential. Here are some of the best practices that you can do:
- Frequent handwashing using soap and water
Wetting your hands with water is not enough to avoid bacteria and viruses. Learn the proper handwashing techniques to have better protection against germs, bacteria, and viruses. If soap and water are not available, you can use alcohol-based sanitizers as an alternative.
- Use a surgical mask or a handkerchief
Using the crook of your arm when sneezing or coughing is fine, but it is better to cover your nose and mouth with either a surgical mask or a handkerchief. These are some ways to trap the droplets from getting exposed to the air. This technique successfully prevents the further spreading of the virus.
- Prepare a disposal bag
If you happen to have combined symptoms of flu, common colds, and sore throat, you must have a personal trash bin where you can dispose of any used tissues or masks. Make sure to place this disposal bag away from others to contain viruses that may cause pharyngitis.
- Avoid sharing items, especially utensils
Sharing utensils and other items with someone who has pharyngitis or sore throat will increase the risk of transmitting viruses and bacteria. If this is not possible, you have to be certain that your sharing items are well-sanitized and disinfected.
- Wash your bedsheets
Soak the bed sheets and pillowcases in hot water to remove the remaining particles that may cause re-infection. Use disinfectant sprays on the mattresses and pillows used before covering it with a new one.
- Practice frequent disinfection
Keep household items and personal belongings virus and bacteria-free by doing routine disinfection and cleaning at least once a week or biweekly. Having a regular schedule of cleaning your daily items is vital to prevent build-up and to avoid harboring disease-causing germs. If possible, perform a general cleaning routine every once in a while.
Home Remedies for Pharyngitis
Preventing pharyngitis is better than curing it, but there are times when we cannot remove the possibility of acquiring it. If you happen to catch pharyngitis, here are some simple home remedies you can use to prevent your sore throat.
- Stay hydrated
The best remedy for every viral and bacterial infection is completing eight glasses of lukewarm water. Do not drink too cold or too hot water, so that you can avoid worsening your throat’s condition. Staying hydrated will help flush out the unnecessary bacteria viruses lingering in your system.
- Gargle daily
Make a home gargle using half a tablespoon of salt and eight ounces of warm water before going to bed. This technique will help disinfect any remaining particles on your throat and mouth.
- Soothe your throat with soup or tea
Drinking a lovely warm chamomile tea will help soothe your throat. Also, you can have soups that will help reduce inflammation and warm your pharynx.
- Use a humidifier to avoid dry air
If you get pharyngitis because of dry indoor air, use a humidifier to let the air circulate better. It helps soothe dry throat and sinuses and improve your respiratory condition.
- Over-the-counter medicines
If your throat pain is bearable, you can take some over-the-counter medications to ease related symptoms. Body pain, fever, and other flu-like symptoms can be relieved by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
You can also relieve your sore throat by taking antiseptic throat sprays or lozenges.
When to See A Doctor
Most cases of pharyngitis naturally clear up after a few days. If your sore throat persists for more than a week, it is best to see a doctor seek treatment and advice.
Acute sore throat.
What is pharyngitis?
Candida infections of the mouth, throat, and esophagus.
How do viruses spread from person to person?